Elec­toral re­form could help the ANC

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

Apro­posal for the ANC to adopt di­rect, con­stituency-based na­tional and pro­vin­cial elec­tions has been placed on the ta­ble. This is part of the prepa­ra­tions of a pres­sure group com­pris­ing ANC stal­warts and vet­er­ans for the party’s up­com­ing con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence, where they will present turn­around pro­pos­als. At present, Luthuli House – in­stead of ANC vot­ers – has the fi­nal say on who be­comes a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) and “this is the root cause of the cur­rent rot de­stroy­ing the coun­try and ANC”, said Omry Mak­goale, a mem­ber of the group of stal­warts and vet­er­ans and the au­thor of a dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment on elec­toral re­form, dated De­cem­ber last year.

The doc­u­ment pro­poses that vot­ers elect MPs di­rectly in­stead of the party ap­point­ing its pre­ferred can­di­dates.

It re­tains the process of branch nom­i­na­tions, but seeks to do away with the sub­se­quent in­flu­ence of the pro­vin­cial lead­ers, as well as Luthuli House.

The ANC’s cur­rent list process in­cludes branch gen­eral meet­ings where mem­bers nom­i­nate can­di­dates for Na­tional Assem­bly, as well as pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures. The can­di­date se­lec­tion process then pro­ceeds to the pro­vin­cial list con­fer­ence and a fi­nal decision is taken at the na­tional list con­fer­ence.

This week, the party an­nounced that it would do away with pro­vin­cial con­sol­i­da­tion of lists.

“The ANC is in ICU and it can­not clean it­self. It can only re­cover with the help of the na­tion’s vot­ers through elec­toral re­form,” said Mak­goale, adding that he hoped the topic would be on the agenda at the pol­icy con­fer­ence and ul­ti­mately the na­tional con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

“Once the MPs are elected di­rectly by the pub­lic, the ANC branches will fine-tune them­selves to nom­i­nate trust­wor­thy can­di­dates for Par­lia­ment. In this way, the branch lead­ers will grad­u­ally be cleansed.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mak­goale, “real power to se­lect and de­s­e­lect can­di­dates will bring life into the branches from the bot­tom up, Elec­toral re­form pro­pos­als prin­ci­pled mem­bers will join the branches and there will be a flow­er­ing of ANC democ­racy”.

He added that in this way, “the ten­der­preneurs and ca­reerists will be chal­lenged, and got rid of”.

Mak­goale said that, cur­rently, “most ANC lead­ers are not held in­di­vid­u­ally ac­count­able and are not held re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions ei­ther. Ev­ery­body does what he or she likes, never mind the con­se­quences to the ANC or the coun­try. This is a ter­ri­ble state of af­fairs.

“The cur­rent elec­toral laws do not re­quire or en­force in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity; as long as the head­quar­ters is sat­is­fied, never mind the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

He said the party’s head­quar­ters de­manded ac­count­abil­ity from its mem­bers, “not the other way round”.

In his view, this is a “firm demo­cratic cen­tral­ism struc­ture – the cen­tre is firmly in con­trol and in charge. The cen­tre is de facto a law unto it­self. What is per­ceived as right by the cen­tre be­comes law. The loot­ing of state as­sets ad­min­is­tered by the party head­quar­ters is be­ing pro­tected by po­lice and the pros­e­cu­tion au­thor­i­ties.”

He said MPs were em­ployed by the cen­tre and they had to be loyal to the party head­quar­ters at all times, other­wise they would be re­de­ployed. “The cen­tre de­ploys those who are loyal and dis­cards those who are dis­loyal,” he said.

In his view, “loy­alty should be to the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of South Africa and the found­ing prin­ci­ples of the ANC”.

Party head­quar­ters, by con­trast, be­lieved loy­alty to the ANC lead­er­ship was “more im­por­tant than the Con­sti­tu­tion, no mat­ter what its faults”.

This is be­cause un­der elec­toral law, in Mak­goale’s view, the elec­tive con­fer­ence se­lects the party list, and the party list pro­vides the ANC’s MPs, with no ac­count­abil­ity to any branch or any com­mu­nity of vot­ers.

“ANC branches have no con­trol, while vot­ers must vote for a name­less herd in­stead of a trusted in­di­vid­ual whom they can re­move at the next elec­tion, while the herd obeys only the stick in the hands of Luthuli House.” Mak­goale de­scribes this as “pro­foundly un­demo­cratic”. He said ANC struc­tures needed to dis­cuss mea­sures on how best to com­bine the need for rep­re­sen­tiv­ity with the need for in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity of elected politi­cians.

This could only be achieved by in­creas­ing the role of ward or con­stituency elec­tions.

“As a min­i­mum, we must adopt the cur­rent mu­nic­i­pal elec­toral laws, to ap­ply also for the prov­ince and na­tional Par­lia­ment,” he said.

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